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Friday, May 23, 2014

Walk of Shame

Because sometimes even dumb movies need some love.

This review is also up at Channel 24

What it's about

After losing both her fiancĂ©e and her dream job in the same day, TV reporter Meghan (Elizabeth Banks) enjoys a rare wild night out with her girlfriends that culminates in a drunken one-night-stand with a poor bartender (James Marsden), Gordon. As it so happens though, her dream job isn't quite the lost cause that she assumed it to be, as a late night missed-call from her agent informs her of a second chance to impress her potential new bosses with her next broadcast – and with eight hours lead-time, it should give her plenty of time to prepare. Unfortunately, after getting locked out of Gordon's apartment with no money, no car, no phone and no idea where on earth she is, those eight hours suddenly start looking like no time at all.

What we thought

Walk of Shame has gotten a right kicking by overseas critics (scoring a paltry 25/100 on Metacritic.com) and a decidedly tepid reaction by ordinary cinema goers (it's a box office bomb even taking into account its limited release), but, as it so happens, it's far from the trainwreck that most critics paint it to be. Obviously, it's no masterpiece as it is, frankly, an immensely stupid piece of comic fluff but – and this is crucial – it's also effortlessly entertaining and pretty consistently funny.

It's simply ridiculous that Walk of Shame has crashed and burned, while a truly hateful piece of crap like That's My Boy – by my reckoning, the absolute nadir of Adam Sandler's film career - somehow managed to score six more points than Walk of Shame on Metacritic and made a big fat profit while doing so. Now, no one is going to confuse Walk of Shame for The Naked Gun, The Big Lebowski or Monty Python's Life of Brian, but for a dumbo Hollywood comedy, it easily annihilates most of its competition.

Its major coup de grace, of course, is Elizabeth Banks in the lead role. Banks is an effortlessly likeable screen presence who also happens to be really, really funny. She is supported by a dozen-odd great supporting characters, including similarly likeable and funny people like Community's Gillian Jacobs and a puppy-doggish James Marsden but this is Banks' movie all the way, from first frame to last. The character she plays could so easily have been an annoying, neurotic pain in the ass but Banks ensures that you are always on her side and always laughing with her, rather than at her.

There's also a sense that Banks and the other impressive comedic actors in the film elevate much of the material because, though writer/ director Steven Brill (Little Nicky, Mr Deeds) has delivered what is easily the best comedy of his career, nothing about the script or direction stand out particularly. Of course, considering just how rotten a track record he has, the fact that his filmmaking here is simply unexceptional is a huge step up for Brill.

Still, stupid is as stupid does and there's no way that even the (allegedly) upcoming Dumb and Dumber sequel will be even half as unabashedly moronic as Walk of Shame. It's not moronic in a way that most Adam Sandler movies are moronic, as it's laughable, rather than slappable but if you've spent your life looking for the world's most inane and badly thought out scripts, you may just have hit the jackpot. Again, it's not offensively stupid at all but when you're not laughing with Meghan and her assorted crew of skanks, weirdos, idiots and puppy-men, you will spend much the movie laughing at just how stupid every single turn of event is and how Brill has somehow found a way to have his characters act in the least believable ways imaginable.

But, really, since when did affably dumb, raucous, good-natured and funny become descriptors for bad comedy? Sure, witty and smart is always preferable to dopey and stupid but if you're going for the latter, rather than the former then you could do a whole lot worse than Walk of Shame. You could, for example, watch The Other Woman. Now THAT would be a bad idea.


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